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Thread: Why is ARM Microarchitecture so Popular Recently?

  1. #1
    The User DemonDragonJ's Avatar
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    Default Why is ARM Microarchitecture so Popular Recently?

    I have been hearing in the news that processors that use ARM architecture are becoming very popular, especially in mobile devices, but I do not understand why it is so popular, so I was wondering if anyone here could explain the reason to me.

    Why is ARM architecture so popular for mobile devices, and, more importantly, will it ever displace X86 architecture in traditional desktop computers? I Sincerely hope that it does not, as that would be a disruption of what I find to be comfortable and familiar, and I almost always am displeased when what I find to be comfortable and familiar is disrupted, plus, X86 architecture is excellent as it is, and does not need to be replaced, in my mind.

    What insight can anyone else offer on this subject? I await your responses.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Why is ARM Microarchitecture so Popular Recently?

    arm processors offer a great amount of power with very little power usage. they are also quite cheap. the greatest downfall i see right now is that all the arm devices have to have custom roms for each one. even when they have the same processor. installing operating systems requires a second computer to flash the rom to the device. it can get quite complicated.

    i don't think they will take over x86 architecture until they become as powerful and as power hungry as x86 chips.

    however, there are really cool devices coming out on almost a weekly basis.

    i recently picked up a ug802
    http://www.cnx-software.com/tag/ug802/
    it's rocking a dual gore 1.6ghz (underclocked to 1.2) processor, quad core gpu, and 1g of ram. at full bore it only sucks up about 5w of power.

    there are other similar devices that use the same cpu/gpu but have to have their own custom rom because the wifi is different. that makes it a pain in the ass.

    anyway, the reasons they are so popular is due to low power, relatively high power computing, and they cost very little. i picked up my ug802 for $65 shipped. just plug it into a tv or monitor and plug in keyboard and mouse and you have a complete usable computer for under $100 (plus cost of display).

  3. #3
    The floppy drive is no longer obsolete. AmEv's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why is ARM Microarchitecture so Popular Recently?

    The reason why it needs the custom ROMs is the (Linux) kernel, usually. The kernel is stripped of a LOT of resources. I'm somewhat of a Thrive custom kernel dev, so I've figured these things out.
    Two years. They were great. Let's make the next ones even better!

    Tri.fecta

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    Default Re: Why is ARM Microarchitecture so Popular Recently?

    yes, the linux kernel is stripped down, android patches applied and then drivers applied for the specific hardware.

    i'd imagine the same is true of the linux roms but without the android patches.

    i think once someone comes up with an installer that works across the board, these arm devices will explode with popularity even more.

  5. #5
    One Eye, Sixteen Cores. Kayin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why is ARM Microarchitecture so Popular Recently?

    Simply not possible. Each ARM core is custom designed, and each one is rather different. TI's ARM is not Samsung's ARM is not Apple's ARM. Each one is different as to OoOE, memory, core counts, sometimes even pipeline steps.
    Project:Mithril, sponsored by Petra's Tech Shop and Sidewinder Computers-MOTM Nominee October '08




  6. #6
    The floppy drive is no longer obsolete. AmEv's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why is ARM Microarchitecture so Popular Recently?

    ^Much like AMD's x86 isn't exactly Intel's x86. The reason for the strip-down is so the drivers aren't loaded, and features aren't adding overhead.

    Sure, you could use a generic x86 or ARM processor driver, but the lack of optimization slows it down drastically.
    Two years. They were great. Let's make the next ones even better!

    Tri.fecta

  7. #7
    Anodized. Again. Konrad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why is ARM Microarchitecture so Popular Recently?

    My interpretation is that proprietary architectures - including Intel's and AMD's infinitely popular x86 families - are becoming more standardized, are putting more emphasis on "universal" intercompatibility. In short, each new generation of hardware and software is blurring the boundaries a bit more, there's piles and piles of detailed technical specs but actual real-life applications are more sort of governed by the laws of large numbers which can be measured by ("universal") benchmarks. Basically, every platform seems to be going scalar, going intercompatible, becoming capable of emulating every other platform ... and if in practice the processors are basically becoming fungible then the only difference which matters is cost/availability. ARM machinery is diverse and cheap and widely available from numerous "second source" silicon houses, it is expanding across the market in ways that proprietary-limited tech (like x86 chips) cannot match.
    My mind says Technic, but my body says Duplo.

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